The South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) has announced that nine Boeing B737NGs have been grounded, after inspections revealed cracks in the pickle fork area.
Out of the nine grounded B737NGs, five are operated by Korean Air (KE), three by Jin Air (LJ) and one by Jeju Air (7C).
MOLIT said that so far, 42 aircraft out of the total of 150 Boeing B737NGs operated in the country have been inspected. The hit rate is over 20% in South Korea.
Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Boeing 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900 and -900ER series airplane’s following the cracks found on several 737NGs, where the wing is attached to the fuselage, in a part commonly referred to as the pickle fork.
The FAA ordered immediate inspections within seven days of all Boeing B737NG aircraft which have already accumulated at least 30,000 flight cycles. The remaining ones have to be inspected prior to the accumulation of 22,600 total flight cycles, or within 1,000 flight cycles after the effective date of the directive.
If any crack are found, they must be repaired before further flights using a method approved by the FAA or The Boeing Company Organisation Designation Authorisation (ODA). After this, airlines have to send a report with all the results of the initial inspection to Boeing.
According to Boeing, out of the 810 Boeing B737NGs that have been inspected across the world so far 38 were identified with the issue. The hit rate is about 5% globally.